Free agent preview: Boston Red Sox

Yeah, it was a nightmare in Boston for the 2012 season, and after dumping Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Josh Beckett onto the Dodgers, the Red Sox certainly have some holes on their team for 2013. Spending recklessly is what got them into their mess last season, and I don't think they're going to go *as* crazy this offseason….but they certainly have the ability to.

Needs
The team is nearing a two-year extension with DH David Ortiz, which will take care of that impending vacancy. But Boston still has plenty of holes elsewhere. A new vacancy is available at shortstop after Mike Aviles was sent to the Blue Jays as compensation for new manager John Farrell, but Boston will likely go with the slick-gloved Jose Iglesias as a replacement. The team needs a first baseman with James Loney headed for free agency, and Boston only has one of three outfield starters set in Jacoby Ellsbury. The starting rotation also has a couple of holes past Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Felix Doubront, and the roles of Daniel Bard, Franklin Morales, and John Lackey up in the air.

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Possible Options
For the first base job, Boston could roll the dice with all-bat no-glove prospect Ryan Lavarnway in light of a very weak class at first base. They might end up with someone like Carlos Pena, who could actually have himself a grand time in Boston. For their outfield holes, I think that re-signing Cody Ross will be a priority for the team, and that the Sox will look towards a middle tier name like Melky Cabrera or Shane Victorino for the other spot. I don't think Boston is going to screw around looking at a Hamilton/Upton/Swisher type of player.

Trade Options
There are rumors floating around a number of the remaining Boston veterans, but the rumors circulating around Jacoby Ellsbuy seem to have the most traction behind them. 2013 will be Ellsbury's final arbitration season, and he'll probably earn close to $10 million. His ceiling his extremely high, but he just can never stay healthy, making him a potential piece for the Red Sox to trade for some young talent. Buchholz and Lester might also get moved, but I don't see that as a very high possibility due to what the Boston rotation looks like past those two.

Trade Targets
Unlike a lot of teams looking to trade players, the Red Sox aren't in "build for the future" mode. A second straight season of not competing will likely cause the Beantown locals to go crazy, and Ben Cherrington would be firmly on the hot seat. If the Red Sox are going to trade a player the caliber of Ellsbury, Lester, or Buchholz, they had better be getting solid major league talent in return. Boston's farm system isn't as execeptional as it's been in prior years, but they still have some nice prospects that could be moved to fill one of the holes at the major league level. A trade for Chase Headley might be a possibility, with third baseman Will Middlebrooks transitioning across the diamond to first base. I'm sure Cherrington would also love to put a package together to pry Justin Upton from the fingers of the Diamondbacks and GM Kevin Towers, but it would likely take a substantial collection of players that I'm not sure Cherrington would be willing to part with.

Joe Lucia

About Joe Lucia

Joe is the managing editor of The Outside Corner and a contributing author at Awful Announcing. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is stuck somewhere between tolerating and hating Pittsburgh and Philadelphia sports.

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